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Somerset win again against Essex in RLC thanks to Azhar & Trego centuries

Tim Groenewald 3-34 for Somerset against Essex
Dan Lawrence 51 for Essex

Azhar Ali and Peter Trego hit chanceless centuries as Somerset maintained their impressive start to the season with a 36-run Royal London One-Day Cup win over Essex under Duckworth-Lewis-Stern at Taunton.

The pair added 217 for the second wicket, a Somerset record for any wicket in List A games against Essex, Azhar hitting 110 and Trego contributing 141 to a total of 353 for five after their team had been invited to bat first in a contest reduced to 39 overs per side.

Essex had reached 82 for three from 12 overs in reply when rain forced a lengthy stoppage. When the teams went back on at 8.25pm, their target had become a further 109 from five overs and they fell 37 short.

The result gave Somerset maximum points from four group matches, while for Essex it was a third defeat in four games. Azhar’s hundred was his 17th in List A cricket and Trego’s his tenth.

The game got underway at 3pm, two hours after the scheduled start, because of rain. There was no hint of the run-feast to come when Siddle struck in the second over, Tom Banton skying a catch to cover.

Somerset’s new floodlights were on from the start. Azhar and Trego began cautiously until the latter cut loose in the seventh over, pulling a six over mid-wicket off Sam Cook and then lofting him over long-on into the River Tone.

Azhar was first to his half-century, off 45 balls, his innings characterised by some wristy off-side shots. The century stand came up off 88 deliveries and Trego brought up his fifty with a straight six off Simon Harmer, having faced 46 balls.

The two batsmen, with a combined age of 71, showed all their experience in shot selection, never looking in any bother. Azhar’s first List A century for Somerset and first for the county at Taunton in any competition was reached with a six over extra-cover off Matt Quinn.

The former Pakistan Test player had faced 84 balls, hitting 9 fours and 4 sixes. Trego went to three figures in the following over off 84 deliveries, with 8 fours and 4 sixes, celebrating as extravagantly as if it had been his first ton.

By the time Azhar was caught at long-on off Paul Walter, Somerset were well on course for a winning total. Trego went on to fall six short of his career-best List A score, while Lewis Gregory (21) and James Hildreth (40) cemented their side’s strong position.

After five balls of the Essex innings, a shower sent the players back to the dressing rooms. The visitors, on four without loss, faced a revised target of 311 off 33 overs when play resumed at 6.35pm and quickly lost Paul Walter, caught behind down the leg-side off Josh Davey for one.

Alastair Cook survived a sharp chance to Lewis Gregory at mid-wicket on 15 before falling to Craig Overton’s next delivery, wicketkeeper Banton taking a second catch off a thin edge.

Tom Westley took 14 off an over from slow left-armer Roelof van der Merwe. But when the tenth over was completed, the number required to constitute a game, Essex were on 71 for two, 34 behind on DLS.

Westley was bowled trying to lift van der Merwe over the leg side and it was raining steadily as he walked off. Shortly afterwards the clouds gathered and the umpires called another halt, with Dan Lawrence unbeaten on 32. 

Another restart was ordered for 8.25pm. With only a sprinkling of spectators left in the ground, Essex, needing more than 21 an over for the target of 191, added 72 to close on 154 for six, Lawrence being dismissed for 51.

 During the interval Somerset made a presentation to Hildreth, who was making his 625th appearance for them in all competitions, the most by any player in the club's history.

Highlights and quotes

Azhar Ali and Peter Trego both hit centuries as Somerset defeated Essex by 36 runs on the DLS method at the Cooper Associates County Ground in Taunton.

Azhar (110) and Trego (141) combined in a stand of 217, a Somerset record for the second wicket, in the hosts' score of 352 for five to pave the way for a fourth successive win.

Somerset's man-of-the-match Peter Trego said: "At my age any century could be my last so I was always going to enjoy it. It was nice to share a stand with my twin Azhar. Our team-mates find it hard to tell us apart in the field!

"The rain probably spoiled a classic. Essex have some big-hitting batsmen and had they been able to use all 39 overs it might have been some game.

"We never get tired of singing our victory song and it has been heard a lot already this season. We have started really well and hopefully there is a lot to look forward to."

Essex head coach Anthony McGrath said: "We didn't bowl well enough. Simple as that. It has been the story for us in the competition so far.

"The batsmen were left with an impossible task. Dan Lawrence and Ryan ten Doeschate played well, but when you go out with 109 needed off five overs the game is over.

"We need to raise our game with the ball quickly. We have to come up with a line-up capable of beating Hampshire on Sunday if we are to have any hope of progressing in the competition."

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